Canadian Paralympian Chantal Petitclerc has been named the winner of the 2010 United States Sports Academy’s Juan Antonio Samaranch IOC President’s Disabled Athlete Award.
The Quebec native has been a dominant figure in wheelchair racing, having won five gold medals in each of the last two Paralympics — Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. Petitclerc won races covering distances from 100 meters to 1,500 meters. During the Beijing Paralympics, she set three world records and four Paralympic records. During her career Petitclerc has collected 21 Paralympic medals, including fourteen golds.
In 2008, The Canadian Press voted Petitclerc its Female Athlete of the Year, the first time a Paralympian received the honor. Other previous awards include being named Canadian Personality of the Year by the Canadian news magazine MacLean’s in 2004, and the 2005 Laureus Sport Award as the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability.
Petitclerc is a Quebec native. An accident at age 13 left her a paraplegic, but she took up sports in high school. She discovered wheelchair racing at 18 and set her sights on becoming the best in the world.
The Juan Antonio Samaranch IOC President’s Disabled Athlete Award is presented annually to the physically or mentally challenged athlete who displays courage, desire, and athletic ability in the face of adversity to achieve the goals set forth in the athlete’s particular arena of competition.